Imbolc 2016: Facts, Dates, Traditions And Rituals To Know

Hail, Brigid!

01/29/2016 07:29 pm ET
  • HuffPost Religion EditorsThe Huffington Post

For many in the U.S., the only ‘religious’ event this time of year is the Super Bowl. But for many pagans and Wiccans, February 2 marks the important holiday, Imbolc, and their attention may be focused somewhere other than the television screen.

GMNICHOLAS VIA GETTY IMAGES
Imbolc is one of four major pagan sabbats, or holidays.

1. Imbolc is one of four major pagan sabbats, or holidays, along with Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain. In between these sabbats, pagans celebrate the seasonal solstices and equinoxes.

2. Imbolc is pronounced “IM-bulk” or “EM-bowlk.”

MICHAEL KRABS VIA GETTY IMAGES
Imbolc falls on the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.

3. Imbolc falls on the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Although it is attributed to the ancient Celts, ancient Egyptians, Babylonians and indigenous groups are also believed to have celebrated an equivalent holiday.

4. Nowadays Imbolc may be related to Candlemas and Groundhog Day, and indeed there is evidence from early Irish lore surrounding weather divination this time of year.

ANNIE GORMLIE/FLICKR
Imbolc honors the Celtic goddess, Brigid.

5. Also called Brigid’s Day, Imbolc honors the Celtic goddess of fire, fertility, midwifery and the young. Many Pagans will pay tribute to Brigid by arranging an altar and ‘invoking’ the goddess through prayer.

6. The term ‘Imbolc’ derives from Old Irish and means “in the belly,” or alternately “ewe’s milk.” The interpretation lends significance to the holiday as a celebration of fertility, reproduction and the young — all overseen by the goddess Brigid.

ANDREUSK VIA GETTY IMAGES
Seed and bud imagery may be used in Imbolc rituals.

7. Imbolc observes the waning of winter and approach of spring. Pagans often use fire and other forms of light to encourage the lengthening of day. Seed and bud imagery may be used, as well, to promote the growth of new life ensured by springtime.

8. As with many pagan holidays, food and music are essential. Dishes for Imbolc tend to incorporate seeds, dairy and other spring-evoking foods.

EDITOR B/FLICKR
Celebrants often prepare talismans to use during Imbolc ceremonies, including the Brigid’s Cross.

9. Celebrants often prepare talismans to use during Imbolc ceremonies and then keep in their homes. These include a Brideog — a small straw doll dressed in white cloth — and a Brigid’s Cross, also often woven from straw.

10. Imbolc is a time for spring cleaning. Some clean their homes, take ritual baths and de-clutter their lives in other ways. This is believed to create space for the goddess to come into people’s live and for new seeds to take root in the coming spring.

Voodoo Ancestor Elevation

ancestor altar

Ancestor Elevation
The Ancestors are very important to us. Through all of them, we were created. They guide us, help us, clear obstacles, and form the base of all Afro Caribbean traditions. It is important to create and maintain a good relationship with them in order to find success in life. Accordingly, I am posting an elevation ceremony for your ancestors which you can do at home.

Elevating the ancestors helps them immensely. It clears their paths and helps them. When you help them, they will be able to find it easier to help you. Elevating them gives them more power which in turn they will use to bless you. As your ancestors are elevated, you will find that things come easier, you have fewer obstacles, have more insightful dreams, and reach your goals much easier.

What you will need:
•7 small “emergency” white candles (sometimes referred to as utility candles)
•A white rosary
•A meal for the seventh day
•A glass of water
•7 bricks
•Holy Water
Some people prefer to do this for 9, 11, 13, or 21 days. For that you will need to increase the number of candles and bricks. You can also alternately use a seven-day white candle.

First, you should set aside a space to do this. If you have an ancestral altar, it is very appropriate to do it there. If you do not, you can set aside a little corner in your home to do it.

You should say a humble prayer to God. All things come after God. Light your white candle, and pray. Then pray to your ancestors, call the names of those you know and for those you don’t know say “To all those ancestors that I know and do not know, to all of those for whom I prayed and didn’t pray, to all those I greeted and did not greet”. You should pray for their – and your – spiritual elevation, for the removal of obstacles, and for connection to them.

You should spill some water on the ground three times for each ancestor you call, and three times for those you do not know. Some people will place photos nearby to remind them of different ancestors, others do not.

Now consecrate your rosary in service to the ancestors. Baptize it with holy water to serve all of your ancestors with it. Pray the rosary with faith and devotion. Know that your ancestors are all around you.

Place a brick down as you state that you are elevating your ancestors. Place the white candle and the glass of water on top of the brick. Repeat this procedure for seven days straight, each day laying a new brick on top of the old one.

On the seventh day, make your food offering to your ancestors, and thank them for listening to you. Make this process a habit. You will find that your luck will improve, you will have revelatory dreams, and that obstacles disappear. Don’t forget your ancestors. You can talk to them daily. You don’t need to talk to them only at an altar, you can speak to them while you drive your car, walk the dog, or cook your meals.

Ce Bon Doktor Grey Ravyn

image of altar taken from: The Wild Hunt

Celebrating Dia de Los Muertos or the Day of the Dead: November 1st

Day of the Dead Traditions

Common Day of the Dead traditions include creating altars to honor the dead, laying out offerings, sharing stories of the deceased, as well as cleaning and decorating gravesites. Because Day of the Dead is a very festive, creative holiday, current Day of the Dead customs also include festivals, parades, and the making of Dia de los Muertos crafts.

Day of the Dead Customs of Creating Altars

Creating an altar is one of the most important Day of the Dead customs
Photo Credit: Carlos Martinez

The key purpose behind these Day of the Dead customs is to make contact with the spirits of the dead, to let them know that they are not forgotten and that their loved ones on earth still care about them. It is a way of keeping the connection between loved ones alive, though they may be physically separated by death.

Day of the Dead traditions can vary from town to town, with each community embracing their own unique blend of rituals, customs, and celebrations. Although the Day of the Dead customs in a small village in Mexico may differ from the Day of the Dead customs in a large American city like San Francisco, there are still several common Day of the Dead traditions that are carried out no matter what the location.

Here are the most common and important Day of the Dead traditions:

Day of the Dead altars

Day of the Dead tradition of creating an altar

Day of the Dead altar
Photo credit: mcbarnicle

Creating Day of the Dead altars is one of the most important Day of the Dead traditions. Day of the Dead altars are typically created inside people’s homes to honor the spirits of their deceased loved ones. When Dia de los Muertos is embraced by the community, non-secular altars are also created in schools, government offices, and other community spaces.

Day of the Dead altars are set up on the two days leading up to Dia de los Muertos. Altars contain “offerings” for the dead, known as ofrenda. These include items such as:

  • candles
  • fresh flowers or flowers petals (usually marigolds)
  • photographs of the deceased, along with other memorabilia
  • the favorite foods and drinks of the deceased (lovingly-prepared)
  • incense
  • water
  • sugar skulls
  • pan de muerto (bread of the dead)
  • statues of saints
  • other items

You can click here to learn more about Day of the Dead altars or see an example of how to build your own.

Decorating Gravesites

Day of the Dead traditions of decorating gravestones

Decorated gravestone in Mexico
Photo credit: Thelmadatter

On the Day of the Dead, many families will congregate in graveyards to clean the graves of their loved ones who have passed. They decorate the graves with Mexican marigolds called cempasúchil, often lovingly arranged into huge arches. The arches and graves are adorned with photos, mementos and gifts, such as the dead person’s favorite foods and drinks. These gifts, or offerings, are meant to attract the dead, helping them find their way back to their loved ones on earth. The burning candles and scent of copal incense also help guide the departed back to earth.

The tradition of grave-cleaning on Dia de los Muertos takes on a festive air. Graveyard picnics are common as people interact with the spirits of the deceased as if they were still alive. These graveyard visits often turn into all-night vigils with candlelit ceremonies and hired bands to play the favorite music of the dead.

The event becomes a social gathering marked by a combination of festivity and introspection, as everyone honors their dead loved ones, communicating with their spirits while reflecting on their own mortality in the circle of life and death.

Sharing Stories about the Deceased

Day of the Dead tradition of sitting at gravesite and telling stories

Telling stories by the graves
Photo Credit: Tomascastelazo

Part of honoring the dead is to tell stories about them, such as funny anecdotes or poems that poke fun at their quirks (known as calaveras). It is believed that the dead do not want to be thought of in a sad or somber manner – they want to be remembered and celebrated, since they are still alive – just in another form.

Therefore Dia de los Muertos is the right time to poke fun at your late Aunt Maria’s obsession with hair spray or to re-tell that day when Uncle Jose was so drunk he fell into the lake. In fact, you’d even place a can of Aunt Maria’s favorite hairspray on her altar and a bottle of Uncle Jose’s favorite whisky on his altar!

In Mexican culture, these stories form part of each family’s oral tradition, as tales of family members are passed on from generation to generation. It keeps the family history alive.

Odin’s Binding and Transformation Spell

 Odin

This is a major spell. One that should be reserved for the most serious problems.
It is a psychic takeover of the person’s mind so be sure the circumstances justify using Magic this
way, such as for a rapist, a child abuser, or active practitioner of black magic.

(Side note: I personally don’t believe in the existence of white, gray or black magic. I believe all spells come from the heart of the caster and if that person’s heart is dark then the spell will taken to dark places. Conversely, if the caster’s heart is good, the spell will be taken to light places.)
This spell is not meant to punish the person it binds. It is meant to help them.
You cast it out of necessity and compassion. Not in anger.
It is designed to stop the person dead in their tracks. To freeze them from doing
harm to themselves or others and give them pause; a clear space in which
positive transformation can occur.

What You Will Need:

1. An altar.(This altar would be different from a Vodou/Hoodoo altar since this is not that kind of spell. It should be more of a Pagan/Wiccan/Deity altar. Put things on it that you think would please Odin. Here is a great site that talks about who Odin is and what he might like on his altar.

2. A poppet. This represents the person at whom you are directing the spell. This site has a good introductory about how to make poppets.  A poppet – any sort of poppet is fine, in the correct gender if possible. Personalize it in some way to the person you will bind, such as embroidering their
name on it or affixing a picture of them to the poppet’s face.The person from whom I got this spell likes to use a human shaped candle with the person’s name written on it or carved into the wax.)
3. Two candles. Black ones if possible. (Black candles are somewhat hard to come by so if you can’t find black then get the darkest color. It doesn’t have to be a big candle. A small .99 cent candle is fine.)
4. Black thread (cotton is good. Linen is better)
5. Incense (Copal, fumitory, sandalwood and frankincense are good, but use whatever you can get.)
6. An image of the person or something connected with them. (If you don’t have anything, write their name on a piece of paper.)
7. A healthy, living tree.

8. Whatever you normally use for casting a circle.

Working The Spell:
1.Gather everything (except the tree) where you will cast the spell.
2. Light one candle and the incense.

3. Cast a circle in your usual way. (I like to use Sea Salt that I’ve put in the freezer for three days. The cold cleanses it.) This site has a page on how to simply cast a circle. You also may want to Call the Corners. Here is what I say when I Call the Corners:

I call upon East, the direction of Air.

I call upon North, the direction of Earth.

I call upon West, the direction of my ancestors and Water.

I call upon South, the direction of Fire.

I ask that you aid me in these protection workings.

4. Bind the poppet with the thread wrapping it around and around and making knots whenever you feel they are necessary. Speak to the person as you do this. Tell them specifically why you are binding them and what you are binding them from.
5. Leave a long piece of thread hanging from the poppet. Tie 9 knots in this. Drip molten wax on the bindings to seal them.
Use wax to seal any body parts you are binding, such as the hands of someone who beats his wife or kids; the crotch of a sexual predator; or the mouth of someone who is verbally abusive.

6. Close the circle and ground power.

Thank the spirits for aiding you and Close the Corners:

East, thank you for aiding me tonight. Go if you must. Stay if you will. Hail to you and farewell.

North, thank you for aiding me tonight. Go if you must. Stay if you will. Hail to you and farewell.

West, thank you for aiding me tonight. Go if you must. Stay if you will. Hail to you and farewell.

South, thank you for aiding me tonight. Go if you must. Stay if you will. Hail to you and farewell.

 

This is what I say to close my circle and ground the power:

Thrice around the circle bound sink all evil to the ground.

Thrice around the circle bound sink all evil to the ground.

Thrice around the circle bound sink all evil to the ground.

So mote it be.

You can do it however you feel comfortable doing it. I only offer this as a suggestion. Additionally, I would also thank Odin and any other helping spirits around profusely for attending you. It is just good form to always thank them. You want to be polite to them.

7. Leave the poppet on the altar and have it touching whatever you are using to connect them to it and leave it like that until the candle and incense have burned out.
8. Take the poppet and use the thread to tie it upside-down to a tree – an indoor tree will work as well as an outdoor one.
9. Make the 5-fold bond, if it is possible to do this with the type of poppet and bindings you have used. You can copy the position of The Hanged Man. Here is a picture of one of my tarot cards depicting The Hanged Man just for your reference:

the hanged man

Say this:
I ween that I hung on a windy tree,
Hung there for nights full nine;
With the spear I was wounded, and offered I was
To Odin, myself to myself,
On the tree that none may ever know
What root beneath it runs.

This is the transformation part of the spell. Leave the poppet on the tree for nine days.
10. Recite the poem to the poppet at least once each day while sending the person strong thoughts about the changes you want them to manifest.
Send them compassion.  Send them enlightenment. Hold a mirror up to the poppet while you recite the poem if you want them to ‘see’
what they have done. Yell at the poppet if you have anger you need to release.

Vodou/Hoodoo Justice Spell for a Child- Calling on Erzulie Dantor

Erzulie Dantor and Mama Dantor

Here is a page with some fabulous information on Erzulie Dantor, her life, her siblings and her children. I strongly suggest before you do any work with/for Erzulie Dantor that you read up on her and fully understand who she is and how she operates.

You will need an altar before you do anything else. This is a good site that explains ways to set up a Vodou/Hoodoo altar.

The next thing to do for this spell/conjure is to make your Justice Oil. Here is the recipe:

Voodoo/Hoodoo Justice Oil

1. Some soil from a courthouse

2. Three iron nails

3. Pinch of soil from a police station

4. Plastic spray bottle

5. Olive Oil

Putting it together

1. Add the courthouse soil, the three iron nails and the pinch of soil from the police station to your plastic bottle. Shake well.

2. While you are shaking the mixture, pray one Our Father and three Hail Marys

3. Add the olive oil to cover.

4. Shake well again.

5. Spray the candle you are using for your conjure/spell while reciting Psalm 82

 

Working the Conjure/Spell

*Keep in mind that Mama Dantor is served on Tuesdays.

What you will need:

1. An altar.

2. An image of Erzulie Dantor (you can download and print one off the interwebs)

3. A blue candle that has been dedicated and consecrated to Erzulie Dantor using Justice Oil

4. A silver ring with a red or blue stone preferably. Or you can use any silver ring.

5. Unfiltered cigarettes (or you can use incense but make SURE that you tell Mama Dantor WHY you are using it).

6. A bottle of rum.

7. A bible.

8. A picture of the person you want Mama Dantor to protect or exact justice/retribution for (if you don’t have a photo you can write his/her name and date of birth on separate bits of paper and work those the way you would a picture).

9. A picture of the person you want Mama Dantor to exact her vengeance/justice/retribution on (if you don’t have a picture you can write his/her name and date of birth on separate bits of paper and work them the way you would the picture).

Doing the work:

1. Put your image of Erzulie Dantor on your altar.

2. Place the person’s picture you want Mama Dantor to protect under the blue candle.

3. Light the candle.

4. Say this, “Erzulie Dantor, I offer up to you <name>. Protect her/him and keep her/him safe from harm as she/he is hurting and helpless. Anais remember your pains and convince your mother to take this child as her own!”

5. Then offer your silver ring to Mama Dantor as an offering and say this, “Mama Dantor, I offer this ring of your retribution against this abusive man/woman who takes innocence and virtue from the helpless!”

6. Light your cigarette and let the smoke waft around the altar and put the bottle of rum on the altar as well and say this, “As further payment I offer you this cigarette smoke and this rum. Hear me Mama and bring justice upon his/her head! Ache.”

7. Let the candle burn out on it’s own and know that she will wreak havoc on his/her life.

8. As an extra, take a picture of the person you are wanting Mama Dantor to wreak her vengeance/justice/retribution on and put it face down on top of Psalm 82 in the bible. Close the bible and slam it down on a table and say this, “I call on the rigteous justice of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit!”